Northern Ireland

Northern Ireland shopping footfall rises in August

Image caption The number of people visiting shops in Northern Ireland rose by 4.2% in August

Shopper numbers in Northern Ireland during August were 4.2% higher than the same month a year ago.

The rise in footfall - the number of people visiting shops - is a big improvement on the 5.2% fall in July.

Aodhán Connolly of the Northern Ireland Retail Consortium said year-on-year figures had risen in five of the last six months.

"Of course this is a positive trend for Northern Ireland, but there is still much work to be done," he said.

"Our vacancy rate is still 5% higher than the national average although it continues to fall, and we must remember that increased footfall does not directly correlate to increased sales."

However, Mr Connolly said there was "reason for some reserved optimism on the high street" because of "increased consumer confidence, falling unemployment and economists saying that although the recovery in Northern Ireland has slowed, it remains on track".

For the fourth month this year, Northern Ireland had the highest regional figure in the UK, where the overall figure was 1.1% down on last August.

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